Top 10 Ways to Get Blacklisted at Work

When announcing a reduction in force, companies typically frame it as a measure to reorganize or cut costs. In some instances, that's actually true. However, often, it's a way of cleaning house -- getting rid of "deadwood" or "difficult" employees without incurring liability.

In her book 'Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You to Know,' former human resources executive Cynthia Shapiro says that she has seen organizations initiate a restructuring just to get rid of one or two people.

Stuart Watson, an independent human resources consultant, says he's witnessed the same.

"Periodic restructurings allow managers to purge employees they don't like in a way that averts lawsuits and saves face for everyone involved," he says. "Whether formal or informal, nearly every company or manager has a blacklist of employees they'd just as soon not have to deal with. The trick to surviving a layoff is to not be on that list!"

Here are 10 common ways one can get blacklisted:

1. Embarrass, insult or argue relentlessly with your manager.

Your boss holds the key to your future with this company. Offending him or her is career suicide.

2. Say negative things about your employer or its mission every chance you get.

Companies want employees who will support their initiatives -- not sabotage them.

3. Be at the top of your pay range without providing added value.

From a business perspective, the ideal employee is one who is competent, shows potential for growth and is near the middle or bottom of the pay range. If your pay falls high in the range, you best be sure you're giving your employer its money's worth!

4. Take the work-life balance credo too far.

You shouldn't routinely leave early to watch soccer practice or spend more than 15 minutes a day conducting personal business on company time. Even the most family-friendly of companies wants a worker who puts in the hours and is focused on the job!

5. Complain to HR about your boss or co-workers without first trying to work it out directly.

Failure to handle your own problems can signal immaturity, a possible lack of people skills and can get you labeled as "difficult."

6. Use HR as a confessional for personal or professional problems.

As nice as they may seem, remember, HR reps are there to serve the company's best interests, not yours; they likely will report any conversations they've had with you to your manager.

7. Make a highly visible mistake.

To publicly atone for its sins or set an example for other employees, corporations will often offer up a scapegoat. 8. Use your boss or co-worker as a therapist.
No matter how sympathetic they may appear, your colleagues have their own problems and lives to get home to.

9. Tell your colleagues that you're planning on taking maternity or family leave -- or filing for workers compensation -- before telling your boss.

If your boss or a superior hears about your plans from someone other than you, they could lay you off to save the company money and hassle and claim they had no idea of your personal situation.

10. Don't bother to bond with your new boss or colleagues.

You'll come off as distrustful, standoffish or socially ill-adept. Besides, it's much easier to fire someone with whom you don't have a relationship. "Bottom line, it pays to be a little paranoid," Watson advises. "Examine your image and actions from the company's perspective to make sure you're viewed as adding value. You want to be seen as someone who is competent, professional, supportive of the company and easy to work with."

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